McNulty: Museum cost justified

Richmonds multi-million dollar reminiscence of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and local sport is going to get a high level boost early next month.

Thats when Richmond Olympic Oval and city officials, along with the Canadian Olympic Committee, will pull off the wraps on the completed design concepts for the Richmond Olympic Experience.

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To be located inside the oval, the $5 million facility is the first in the Americas to become an official member of the Olympic Museums Network and is expected to showcase the spectacle of 2010 Games as well as local sports achievements.

Initially, the display was expected to be a modest one. But according to oval officials, the scale and quality of the original concept did not match the city and ovals expectations, given the funding of $575,000, money set aside from land sales as part of the Richmonds Legacy Conversion Plan.

So, a museum standard display was sought and consultations with officials from the International Olympic Museum Network began.

Visitors are expected to be treated to a host of high-tech, interactive displays. Fall of 2013 was the initial opening date. Now its been pushed back to fall of 2014.

According to the Richmond Olympic Experience Business Plan, the broader scope of the display required additional funding of $1.5 million over three years from the Oval Corporation capital reserve.

Plus, $2.5 million came from the provinces tourism coffers.

And sponsorships added just over $1 million, with another estimated $250,000 expected in the next five years.

The budget jump of Olympian proportions is well worth the additional money, said Coun. Bill McNulty.

It is, I think, if youre going to do an Olympic museum of this caliber, and it will be among the top Olympic museums and experiences in the world, he said.

This is a financial plan to increase revenue and also increase participation at the oval in a different manner, McNulty said.

Not everyone is going to jump on the fitness machines and pay $700 to $1,000 a year and pound weights.

Visitors will be charged a fee for entrance, and an estimated 10,000 are expected during the first year of operation.

The idea of being self-supporting is a concern for the Richmond Sports Council, said chair Jim Lamond who added very few of the largest and high profile museums in the world charge admission.

Lamond also expressed concern about how much the museum will feature local sports achievements, fearing the Olympics will overshadow the communitys contributions. They (oval officials) would have to sell us on it being both, Lamond said.

It seems to be about the Olympic experience, and well add on a little bit about Richmond.

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